Last spring, the city of Richmond, Virginia, acquired a series of outdoor murals painted by artists from around the world. The vibrantly intriguing street art scenes, including one created by Italian muralist Pixel Pancho depicting cosmonauts locked in a kiss and another by Spanish artist Aryz portraying a larger-than-life purple elephant, provided the perfect engagement session backdrop for Tati and Connor, a pair of art lovers and high school sweethearts who were engaged on a winter’s day in Paris. “When I was thinking about what location would really represent who Connor and I are—non-traditional, kinda awkward, and pretty loud—I stumbled upon one of these murals,” Tati said. “It was beautiful and interesting and crazy all rolled into one. I e-mailed our photographer right away to get some feedback. She was just as excited as I was, and we went about picking two of the murals to work with.”
They couldn’t have made better choices, in our opinion, as we were completely besotted by the photographs the minute we saw them. Capturing a couple’s true personalities and one-of-a-kind love for each other through the medium of photography is no easy task, but Tati and Connor’s photographer, Lauryn Galloway (who might very well be the coolest wedding photographer in the great state of Virginia), makes it seem effortless.
PHOTOS BY LAURYN GALLOWAY
Q & A WITH TATI
What’s your love story? When and how did you get engaged?
Connor and I got engaged in Paris, France, on January 6th, 2012. I was living in Paris as an au pair, and he came into town for New Year’s! It was already so great to see him after four months of a “Skype” relationship (they should really get on fixing the quality of that thing), and I genuinely had no clue that he’d be popping the question. He had been feeding me tall tales along the lines of, “I’m so broke right now . . . I love you, but a ring is the furthest thing from my mind,” or, “One day, I’m going to give you the most beautiful ring.” I was happily ignorant of the situation. While I was in Paris dealing with four of the most incredibly French children you could ever meet, Connor was back in Richmond asking my father for his blessing. A week into his stay, we decided to take a walk to the neighborhood chateau in Saint-Germain-en-Laye. It was freezing cold, and I had only worn a leather jacket, thus complaining the entire walk and totally oblivious to Connor’s nerves. Eventually, Connor led me to a bench that was surrounded by floral bushes and trees. With a beautiful view of the chateau at sunset in front of us, he got down on one knee and asked me to “do him the honor of being his wife.” My response? “Yes . . . I think I’m going to throw up.” I’m so smooth!
Neither one of us can remember if we met through our small high school (my graduating class had only 12 or so people) or our insanely large (and awesome) youth group at the West End Assembly of God. My favorite part of our story is the fact that we dated in high school! I was a total idiot and called things off. I was too free-spirited and impatient with Connor. He was too grounded and levelheaded for me! I wanted someone to be reckless with, whereas he was more calm and collected. Man, did I regret that choice! I never truly got over him. There was always a small flutter in my heart whenever I ran into him when I was back home for college break. Connor and I continued to be friends throughout college. He was even a key factor in my healing from a terribly unhealthy three-year-long relationship. I have a vivid memory of my best friend, Connor, and I sitting on the kitchen floor and hashing out the details of my life. He laughed in all the right places . . . and showed sympathy in the painful ones. When I finally moved back home to Virginia and rooted myself there, I knew I had to make Connor see me as more than a friend. Ask any one of our friends: I was love drunk on Connor from the start, and he was undecided. We went through a summer of hot and cold (hot on my end, lukewarm on his), and finally we fell in together. Shortly after we started dating, I was offered an au pair job in Paris that I couldn’t let pass me by. He supported me 100 percent, and we both knew that this would be the ultimate test; we’d either stay together forever or slowly grow apart.
Can you tell us a little bit more about your unique engagement ring?
I LOVE MY RING! While I was in Paris mastering a new language (not really) and experiencing the joys of false motherhood, Connor was e-mailing a jeweler in France! His father works with a woman who has family in France, and they happen to be jewelers. Connor and the jewelers collaborated on my ring together, but it was ultimately Connor’s vision. The ring was handmade in France and then sent to Richmond for Connor to inspect. I love that the ring was made so close to where I was living and that it traveled to the States and back before it was on my hand. My ring is a true testament to how well Connor knows me. I knew I didn’t want an all-diamond ring. I feel as though Americans as a whole tend to forget how beautiful other gems can be! My all-time favorite stone is a yellow sapphire, and Connor definitely delivered. I was in awe when he slipped the ring on my finger. I remember staring at it for weeks and just smiling.
What drew you to the murals as your engagement session location?
Connor and I both love art. He is definitely the more artistic one in our relationship, but I love art in my own little way. The true inspirations for me, though, were Paris and, more strongly, Barcelona. The street art in these two beautiful cities—especially in Barcelona—is mind-blowing. After returning from a weekend trip to Barca, I heard about a new mural project called the G40 Art Summit that was about to take place in Richmond. This collaboration involved artists from around the world and had full consent from the city and from local building owners to paint the town. It was one of the coolest things to happen in Richmond in a long time. I couldn’t wait to see all the murals in real life, as opposed to seeing them via Google. When I was thinking about what location would really represent who Connor and I are—non-traditional, kinda awkward, and pretty loud—I stumbled upon one of these murals. It was beautiful and interesting and crazy all rolled into one. I emailed our photographer, Lauryn, right away to get some feedback. She was just as excited as I was, and we went about picking two of the murals to work with.
Was there anything special about your engagement session attire?
There wasn’t anything too fancy about what we were wearing. We didn’t want to take away from the art, so we tried to remain relatively simple in dress. However, my grey booties were a Parisian purchase, and I guard them with my life.
When and where are you getting married, and what are your plans for the wedding?
We got married on October 6th, 2012. It must be said that our amazing wedding could not have been realized without the help of our family and friends. We are indebted to them for their kindness and can’t express enough how much we love and appreciate them.
Connor and I are both romantics at heart. We knew we wanted everything to feel inviting and to have a certain feeling of romance to it at the same time. Both the ceremony and the reception were held on our church’s property in Amelia, Virginia. It was wonderfully shabby-chic, rustic, and romantic. Old hanging windows, muslin strips, and flower-filled mason jars framed the ceremony setting. The guests entered the ceremony site through a giant outdoor wall with two vintage doors that my father built. Our bouquets and boutonnieres were made up of rosemary, lavender, sage, and thyme. (They smelled heavenly!) The entire bridal party (four groomsmen, four bridesmaids, and eight kids) boogied down the aisle to “Dog Days Are Over” by Florence + the Machine. The reception was catered by a local BBQ dive in Richmond called The Alamo, and we drank sweet tea and lemonade all night. To incorporate the inviting feel we envisioned, we had an outdoor “living room” set up where people could relax and chitchat. Bocce and croquet were played, while our friends’ band, The Black Brothers, kept us dancing into the night.
A lot of the décor elements were handmade by either myself or (mostly) family and friends. I’m blessed with an extremely creative and resourceful family, and our friends (my pseudo-mamas as I call them) are all so very talented and artistic! It was a huge blessing to have their help. I had the vision, but I never would have been able to pull off all the ideas in my head by myself.
Our wedding day was everything we wanted it to be and so much more. Connor and I are so thankful for all our friends and family.This engagement shoot was submitted via Two Bright Lights.